Pastor Chris Tweitmann
The day is almost upon us. Christmas is nearly here. Every year on the 24th of December, we journey back to Bethlehem through the darkness, following the star, carried along by choirs of angels, to gaze into the manger – to behold the Light of the world made flesh. Are we ready for the coming anew of Jesus into our lives? Has the profound mystery, the surprising grace and the daring love of the Incarnation given us pause and filled us with hope and wonder?
Or has the holiday rush so overtaken us, we haven’t had a moment to think of anything besides cards to fill out and mail and presents to purchase and wrap? Are we entering into this holiest of nights physically present but not all there – preoccupied with all we still have left do or just plain exhausted from all we’ve done?
Throughout this season of Advent leading up to Christmas, we have been taking our cues from Mary, the mother of our Lord. Over these last few Sundays, we’ve learned what it looks like to live out of the faith the Lord has in us and gives to us in Christ. Mary has modeled for us a receptive and expectant posture for embracing, following and bearing Jesus with the whole of our being. And now as she is about to deliver the long awaited and promised Messiah – the Savior of the World, perhaps we can benefit once again from following her example.
Needless to say, it had been a couple of full days for Mary. Being near term of her pregnancy, she had just endured a long and no doubt uncomfortable road trip with her husband, Joseph. When Mary finally went into labor, she had to give birth to her firstborn son in a crammed space reserved not for people but for livestock. Then, somewhere between her delivery and a much needed nap afterwards, Mary receives an unexpected visit from shepherds and their flocks by night. In spite of all this – probably still tired and with her mind filled with all the thoughts of what comes next when one becomes a new parent – Mary lives in the moment. Luke tells us quite pointedly: “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
To ponder something is to take in its meaning – to reflect upon what we see and to work to understand what it really means. Another word for pondering that comes up repeatedly in the Bible is meditate. Pondering is not a passive activity. It is decidedly active. Mary purposefully stops, in the thick of all that is happening around her, to ponder what the Lord has done in her life so far. She intentionally pauses to reflect on the possibilities of what the Lord will continue to do through her – her life now inseparably attached to her Son, her Savior – Jesus Christ.
We exist in a day and age when there is not much room for pondering. Bombarded by information coming at us, constantly tempted by distractions all around us and culturally conditioned to keep busy with things before us, little space exists for us to stop and think – to engage in being rather than doing. Mary, however, reminds us, among the many gifts of Christmas, is the sacred space to ponder. We are given precious time to stop and be still before our God. A sacred space is provided for us to just breathe and bask in the revelation of this God who doesn’t come at us, who doesn’t merely exist all around us, who doesn’t even just go before us- but who draws near, who comes along side us and meets us where we are.
Therefore let us come and behold Him. Together let us humbly cross the threshold of life as we know it into life everlasting in miniature; eternity confined to human flesh. Divinity expressed in the borning cry of an infant. Heaven and earth intersecting in the miracle and majesty of the Creator becoming a part of his creation. Let us enter into the blessed silence of this holy night and pause long enough to reflect on this world – our lives – in which Christmas – in which Jesus comes once again. Let us ponder on what has been, what is possible and what is promised for us all in Christ.